State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd On Federal Audit Revealing Misused Funds

State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd joined News 9 on Wednesday morning to discuss the federal audit that revealed tens of millions of dollars in questionable costs. 

Wednesday, April 24th 2024, 8:10 am

By: News 9


Attorney General Gentner Drummond has called for Shelly Zumwalt's resignation as Oklahoma's secretary of tourism after an audit conducted by State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Bird on Tuesday revealed tens of millions of dollars in questionable costs. 

Zumwalt was named secretary in Jan. 2024 by Gov. Stitt and has also served in multiple roles at the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) and was the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC).

Drummond alleges that Zumwalt used her position to approve state funds for a company where her husband was vice president. 

According to Byrd, Zumwalt checked 'no' on forms, indicating that there was no relation or conflict of interest in the contracting of the funds.

Byrd joined News 9 on Wednesday morning to discuss the audit, which she says shows a systemic problem with mismanagement, saying "questionable conduct has led to an abuse of taxpayer dollars."

Byrd said the most egregious thing she found was Oklahoma is not bidding on contracts that are being paid for with federal dollars.

“Federal guidelines are very clear that the state must follow the competitive bidding procedures in place before awarding contracts, and that's not always happening,” Byrd said. 

AG Drummond is asking for an investigative audit in addition to the federal audit that was just completed. 

“The issues we've reported with conflicts of interest or lack of supporting documentation or funds just misspent,” Byrd said. “We're going to find out who was responsible for that and how serious the situation is.” 

Byrd said the Emergency Rental Assistance program through the Office of Management and Enterprise Services produced $21 million in questionable costs, $8 million of which were tied to what Byrd called “excessive management fees.” 

“This grant was set out to help Oklahoma's neediest with housing stability payments or utility payments, and what we found was that OMES gave this nonprofit permission to charge an excessive management fee,” Byrd said. 

Byrd said some of that money could have paid for housing and utility bills for people who need assistance.  

“Had that been utilized for Oklahoma's neediest, we could have assisted five thousand more people,” Byrd said. “That’s a lot of people who may have needed help.” 

Byrd’s report also pointed out an issue with Zumwalt, who had a direct conflict of interest that was not disclosed. 

Byrd says Zumwalt failed to report that her husband worked for a software development company contracted with the state, which Zumwalt has firmly denied saying her husband was not involved in the work contracted through the state.

RELATED:

Oklahoma Attorney General Calls For Immediate Resignation Of Oklahoma Secretary Of Tourism Following Audit

Oklahoma Secretary Of Tourism Denies Auditor’s Claim Of Conflict Of Interest

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